There’s nothing quite like spending a day out on the water, with warm sun on your face, a cool breeze ruffling your hair and the soothing sound of waves lapping at the hull of a sailboat. But learning to sail offers more than just a pleasant day on the water.
According to Chantal Bourgeois, Director of the Jr. Sailing Program at the Hudson Yacht Club, boating is a fun way for kids to gain confidence, learn teamwork, and build new skills. Bourgeois said kids learn everything from water safety, knot-tying and how to rig a boat to the physics of wind and waves.
“It gets you outside and confident on the water. There’s a lot of learning that goes into it,” Bourgeois said. “The kids develop really close relationships, they really bond, and they come away with a sense of pride and accomplishment at the end of it.”
Hudson Yacht Club is one of several organizations in the Montreal area that offer kids a chance to experience the joy of sailing at half- or full-day summer camps.
Programs are typically based on Sail Canada’s CanSail program, which emphasizes boating skills while also covering sailing theory, technique and care, and maintenance of the boats.
At the Hudson Yacht Club and Pointe-Claire Yacht Club, lessons begin at age 7, but kids can start as young as 5 at Dorval’s Royal St. Lawrence Yacht Club. The Dorval club’s Wet Feet program aims to get kids aged 5 to 7 comfortable with how to balance, sit and move in a small sailboat before beginning the learn-to-sail program. The one-week program costs $280 and includes other activities such as swimming and arts and crafts.
The Hudson Yacht Club also has a program to introduce sailing basics. Designed for kids aged 7 to 13 who want to try out the sport without any pressure to commit to a series of lessons, the program includes one week of afternoon-only classes focused on having fun on the water. Classes are three hours each afternoon for five days, and cost $135.
For older children, or those who have already mastered basic sailing skills in small dinghies, all three yacht clubs offer progressively more challenging programs to learn advanced boating skills and opportunities to participate in friendly regattas. There are also racing opportunities for sailors over 8 years old who enjoy competition.
For a complete list of accredited clubs in Quebec that offer lessons for children, visit voile.qc.ca and click on the “Members” link to find clubs, sailing schools or sailing camps near you.
Free adapted sailing lessons for kids 10 and up
The Montreal chapter of the Association Québécoise de voile adaptée offers a learn-to-sail program for children aged 10 to 18 who are in wheelchairs or have other physical limitations. The program is run at the Pointe-Claire Yacht Club, and uses special boats that cannot tip over or sink. Children are accompanied by qualified instructors. The program is suitable even for children who have weakness or paralysis in their arms.
For more information, visit aqvaqc.com.